More than 100 participants from EU institutions, industry, academia and non-government organisations (NGO) attended this year’s European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) Annual General Meeting (AGM). EPEE represents European associations and manufacturers of refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump equipment.
At the heart of the debate: energy efficiency, the links between European energy and climate legislation and the sector’s great potential to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions.
The debate showed energy efficiency is essential to close the 10 percent gap when it comes to reaching Europe’s energy-saving targets while at the same time helping reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and achieving the low-carbon economy objective by 2050.
“Energy efficiency is not just a buzzword for our sector; we can provide the solutions to get to a low carbon economy,” says Andrea Voigt, EPEE’s director general. “The current economic climate, however, overshadows environmentally motivated legislation such as the Energy Efficiency Directive,” adds Voigt.
“EPEE supports the principle of mandatory targets on energy efficiency as proposed in the Energy Efficiency Directive draft. Member states need to understand that even if the initial investment may be higher, the reduced operating cost ensures the overall life-cycle cost turns out much lower. It’s particularly true of energy-efficient technologies such as heat pumps.”
On the other hand, Paul Hodson, head of unit of DG Energy underlines: “Even though much of the commission’s focus has been on a successful conclusion of the Energy Efficiency Directive, we would not be able to make progress without the Eco-Design Directive. This framework is imperative to reach the energy-efficiency targets. It shows how a comprehensive approach towards products that are part of our daily life can save energy, money, and help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Expectations are just as high when it comes to the future of fluorinated gases and all eyes are on a revision proposal of the F-gas Regulation later this year. While there are diverging views on the best way forward, stakeholders agree on the absence of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to replace F-gases, and a solution that meets energy efficiency, safety and affordability requirements.
Ray Gluckman, technical director at the British research institute, SKM Enviros, rounded up the discussions between member states’ representatives, Rolf Engelhardt from Germany; Jean Clarke from Ireland; the contractor body AREA, the International Institute of Refrigeration IIR; the Environmental Investigation Agency EIA; and EPEE with a positive message: “Lower global warming potential (GWP) alternatives have already been introduced where it makes sense, in terms of energy efficiency, safety and affordability. A phase down would give the right stimulus to further accelerate this tendency.”